Las Vegas, Nevada, is known for its dry climate and barren desert. When the Latter-day Saint pioneers first came to Las Vegas in 1855, they settled near a spring of water and built a fort to keep their families safe from danger.
Today, a few miles from the Old Mormon Fort and original spring of water, lives Braeden Smith. Just like the fort of old protected the pioneers, eight-year-old Braeden also feels protection—the protection of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Braeden has lived in Las Vegas his entire life. He loves sports, especially baseball and soccer. “His dad, Scott, has always been his coach,” says his mom, Sister Linda Smith. When Braeden plays ball, it’s a chance for him and his dad to spend time together. They are good friends.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Braeden was so thrilled to have his dad baptize him. Braeden’s three older brothers, Logan (18), Karsten (15), and Kyler (12), were all baptized by their uncle Kelly Keetch. When Braeden was seven, he set a goal to be baptized and hoped that his dad would be the one to do it. Six months before Braeden turned eight, his dad was baptized! Logan, Braeden’s oldest brother, baptized his dad on that memorable day.
Brother Smith gives his wife and children credit for his baptism. “I would work or sleep in on Sundays, but they would get up and go to church every week.” Brother Smith watched his family faithfully attend church for 10 years. During that time the children continually involved him in their Church and Scouting activities. He finally began going to church with them.
“There’s no way to be involved in the Church and not feel the Spirit,” says Brother Smith. “The ward members made me feel so welcome and accepted. It was an easy decision to be baptized.”
Just over a year after their dad’s baptism, the family reached another goal: being sealed together as an eternal family in the temple. “Being together in the temple was something we had all looked forward to for a long time,” comments Sister Smith. Braeden remembers, “Right when we were sealed I felt deep down that now we could be a family in heaven.”
All four boys have set goals to serve missions for the Church. Braeden isn’t waiting until he’s 19 to be a missionary, though. He is already sharing the gospel through his example. His best friend and next-door neighbor, Aaron, watched Braeden go to church each week. Soon Aaron became interested in the gospel, and he has since been baptized along with his family.
Braeden’s grandpa is another good friend. “I like to help my grandpa work in the yard and build things.” In return, his grandpa gives him exciting wheelbarrow rides around the yard. They also like to go to the park together.
Braeden is a good Cub Scout. His dad helped him with his Pinewood Derby racer, and it won! “One of my favorite things about Cub Scouts is day camp,” Braeden says. He smiles as he remembers the crafts and archery. He was even chosen “Viking of the Day.” All four of the Smith boys are active in Scouting. Logan is an Eagle Scout, and Karsten, Kyler, and Braeden plan on becoming Eagle Scouts, too.
When he grows up, Braeden wants to be an author and an illustrator. In his spare time he likes to write short stories and illustrate them. He is working on a book right now called Jack and the Foxes. At school he enjoys art and computer time. He is a good student and a friend to his classmates.
Around the house Braeden is always willing to help, whether it’s vacuuming, dusting, or just cleaning up his room. He is especially helpful with his younger sister, Ashlyn (4). Braeden and Ashlyn enjoy attending Primary together. Sister Smith is the Primary president and likes spending much of her time at church with her two youngest children. Braeden smiles as he comments that Ashlyn, a Sunbeam, is a very enthusiastic singer!
One of the biggest changes since Brother Smith’s baptism is the family’s focus on family home evening. “We’ve always spent family time together doing fun things,” says Sister Smith. “Now we also take time to read the scriptures and have a lesson. We’ve gone from having just ‘family time’ to ‘family home evening.’” Braeden is always willing to participate in family home evening and family scripture study.
Like the adobe walls of the Old Mormon Fort that protected the pioneers, the Smiths feel the protection of the gospel around their family. And even though Las Vegas is in a dry desert, Braeden knows that his family will never thirst spiritually. They can drink freely of the “living water” of the gospel of Jesus Christ.